Read on, and you'll understand why I get a thrill from being in close proximity to such a majestic mountain.
Upon this mountains are the ruins of an old church (St, Peter's church) and I still walk there quite often.
I've walked that mountain many many times over the years - as a child I knew it as Fortress Mountain and there were many legends told about the area. Hidden somewhere on the mountain was supposed to be the gateway to Annwen, which was where goblins, fairies and all manner of creatures lived. Now fairies in the old Welsh legends I was told as a child were not benevolent creatures at all, but were quite evil - they would steal children, poison springs on the hillside and generally cause mayhem. There was often told in local folk lore of a creature call a Quwan, which had the horns of a bull, the head of a man and the body of a wolf. It was also said to breathe fire like a dragon and it would roam the mountains after dark. Woe betide anyone foolish enough to be out wandering the mountains after dark for they would end up fodder for the Quwan.
|The ruins of St. Peter's Church - photographed Jan 2020
All stuff and nonsense of course, but it does send a shiver up the spine when you find yourself up these mountain after dark, as I often do. To paraphrase Shakespeare, - in the dark imagining some fear how easy the bush becomes a bear.
These stories, folk tales, legends, lies..call them what you will, are fantastic enough but there is one story related to this mountain and the old ruins of St. Peter's church that seems even more unlikely but refuses to go away. Are you ready for this - OK here we go. The story is, and there is some evidence to support this, that the church or rather a mound just behind the church houses the remains of none other than King Arthur himself.
Yes, that King Arthur - he of Camelot, the round table, Merlin and all that. I kid you not and I'll outline the supposed connection in a moment, but first I'd like to point out a rather amusing turn to the story. Not far from the old ruins there is a rock formation in the mountain and some joker, armed with spray paint has written the legend: KING ARFUR WOZ ERE!!!
That creative graffiti did raise a smile to my face, when I saw it the other day.
|The cross found in the excavation of St. Peters
The church is believed to have been built on a existing structure which was dated, Wilson and Blackett claim to the 1st century AD making it the oldest existing Christian church in the world. In 1990 the full scale excavation was stopped due to a ferocious storm, with 100 mph gales making working at the site dangerous. At this point below the foundations of the church an older structure was discovered and what was believed to have been the entry to a crypt was partially uncovered, but due to problems with the authorities following the storm, further excavations were forbidden. Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett believe that this was the work of the historical establishment closing down their research for nefarious reasons.
The reader will find several interesting videos HERE that outline the controversy surrounding the search for King Arthur.
There now follow several photographs, supplied to me by a friend, taken during the 1990 dig at St. Peter's church.
'I'm surprised there isn't more support for developing the Arthurian legends in relations to Wales from the main quangos essentially.' Professor Morgan, Cardiff University.
'I've never had any doubts that Arthur was a Welshman, or as he would have thought of himself in those days, a Briton.' Rev. Geraint Ap Lowerth
King Arthur belongs in Wales but he has been snatched, stolen from us and placed in Glastonbury where his supposed grave was discovered in 1181. However, that turned out to be a con carried out by the monks who were attempting to raise money to rebuild Glastonbury Abbey.
To my own mind there was a King Arthur but was he, Welsh? Well yes and no - during the 5th century Wales didn't exist, nor did England so it is difficult to place him in modern boundaries.
He is believed to have held the Anglo Saxons at bay for many many years and the Anglo Saxon would have called Arthur and his people, Wealas which means foreigner and is the root of the modern word, Welsh. So yes a claim can be made that King Arthur was indeed Welsh. Indeed the modern Welsh word for the English is saeson which in the ancient tongue means Saxons. It is also a fact that the very first mention of Arthur was written in Welsh or rather Brythonic. Geoffrey of Monmouth made the first written claim of King Arthur back in the 12th century.
But back to the excavation of St. Peter's church.
Given that the storm drove the excavators away and that they were, for a time, forbidden to return it meant that a lot of the human remains pictured above were simply left, and were scattered by both ramblers and animals which, understandably caused a backlash in the local press. I remember my own local newspaper calling the dig ghoulish. I remember taking a walk up to the old church whilst the 1990 dig was taking place and I saw something that remains clear in my mind, I can even recall the image now. A grave had been excavated and I saw a complete skeleton, side on, still laying in the ground and what struck me is that the skeleton was a reddish colour rather than the bony-white I'd expected. The bones had been dyed a deep red by the years spent in the ground. It was kind of a surreal feeling thinking that this skeleton may have belonged to one of the names I'd often read on the ancient gravestones that dotted the ground around the ruins.
Today, the ruins remain and below are several photographs that I took on a visit to the location only this past week.
Below is an aerial photograph showing both ruins of the church and the mound where some claim Arthur is buried. Get this - the mound is boat shaped, which has led to the startling claim that Arthur is buried there within the fabled Ark of the Covenant.
Much of the research and claims by Wilson and Blackett are compelling, particularly the supposition they have put forth that a comet struck the British Isles in 562 and brought about the Dark Ages. There has been a lot of evidence to support this theory. The event is even recorded in the ancient manuscript, The Tysilio Chronicles.
'And then a Star of enormous size appeared to Ythyr, having a single shaft, and at the head of the shaft a ball of fire in shape of a dragon, and from the dragon’s jaws, two beams went upward, the one beam reaching towards the farthest parts of Ffraink and the other beam towards Iwerddon, which split into seven smaller beams. And Ythr and all who saw this spectacle feared, and they asked the wise men what it might mean. And then Merddin wept and said, “O nation of the Bryttaniait! now are ye bereft of Emrys Wledic, a loss that cannot be replaced.”
To sum up there is far too much here for it to all be cast aside as the rumblings of crackpots. There is enough evidence to suggest that the Arthur legends were stolen and tied into areas like Glastonbury for reasons that may never be truly uncovered. And Wales and specifically Glamorgan may hold a strong claim to be the area where King Arthur, that fabled king who has attained mythic status, truly belongs. Maybe that joker with the spray paint may have a point and KING ARFUR WOZ ERE!!!
Below is a video I shot at the old ruins a few years back